The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Our Sons.

by J. J. Heaton, Indian Civil Service
Volume 1, 1890, pg. 590

IV. -- Employment in India

In looking to India as a field for employment, the first thing to note is its limitations. India is not a country to which nay one should be sent to seek, by himself, a means of livelihood. He should go either to an appointment previously secured, or to friends who have undertaken to find him employment, and to look after him in the meantime. There is no demand whatever for Englishmen, except to hold positions of trust and responsibility. Such positions can, of course, be given only to those whose antecedents and qualifications are known ; not to strangers on their own asking.

It is hardly necessary to lay further stress on this limitation. The cruelty and folly of sending a boy to India to make his own way, as is frequently done to the British Colonies, could be insisted on at great length; but it seems to be generally understood, for the instances of such folly are rare. In this respect India is totally unlike the Colonies, where, it seems to be understood, young men may be sent to do what they can for themselves, unassisted.

The domestic drawbacks of an Indian life are known to most people, and need not be dwelt upon, thought they should not be lost sight of. Marriage must mean, eventually, long periods of separation from wife and children, and the expanse of two separate establishments. Life is less safe in India than in England, as life assurance rates will testify ; and the temptations of a substantial pension ought to be discounted by the remembrance that many die before they have finished their service in India, and many more shortly after.

So much for what India will not provide. I will now try to show what it can give.

For any one who cannot afford to wait for his opportunity at home, or who has not the ability to ensure a real success in England, India is well enough. It provides a considerable number of well-paid appointments and many others paid not so well, but well enough to attract young Englishmen away from the very severe struggle for existence in their own country.

In point of emoluments, pensions on retirement, and allowances for widows and children, the Indian Civil Service is by far the best of the Government Services. Very few, indeed, of its members ever become rich, but equally few are enough at the outset for a bachelor, and as time goes on ample for a married man, and for a good, though not an expensive, education for his children. After twenty-five years' service an Indian Civilian is entitled to a pension of one thousand £ a-year, and there are funds that secure to his widow a pension of not less than £250 a-year for herself, £25 a-year for each child under six, £50 a-year for each child between six and twelve, and £100 for each child between twelve and twenty-one. In the case of girls, the allowance of £100 continues till marriage.

This service is recruited by competitive examination and, owing to a change in the age of the competitors, will in the future be open only to those whose parents can afford to educate them at least until they are twenty-one years of age, and, possibly, till they are twenty-three. Besides this, an allowance of from £50 to £150 a-year is necessary for two years after passing the examination, because this period must be spent by the successful competitor at one of the Universities of Great Britain. During this tie a sum of £150 a-year is drawn from Government, but is not ordinarily enough to cover the cost of living and education, and leaves nothing for the purchase of an outfit for India, therefore the cost of preparation is very considerable, but once settled in India,, an Indian Civilian can from the first live on his pay, and if need be assist and not be a continuing burden on his parents.

This service also has the great advantage of a monopoly of a very large proportion of all the best-paid and most influential Government appointments throughout India, and it is the only service that provides certain and sufficient support for widows and children.

Any parent thinking of sending a son to India as a barrister or solicitor should seek advice and information from a member of one of those professions in India.

An Indian commercial career must begin in England. Any one with capital will not do well to invest it in an entirely new undertaking in India; any one without capital should try to secure a position in one of the established houses of business. This should be done in England through the hoe branches of the Indian firms. Commercial life begins with a salary for the most part sufficient for a bachelor to live in comfort; as in Government service, salaries are progressive, and in course of time become enough or comfortable married life.

The banks in India also give employment to a considerable number of Englishmen ; but, as in commerce al houses, employment must be secured in England. The same is true of the superior appointments on the Indian Joint Stock Railways.

On the whole, the general opinion is that Government service in the higher branches is to be preferred to service either in a bank, house of business, or railway ; and these are practically the only employments outside Government service of good social position.

Engineers and architects have very little chance of earning a living, and private medical practitioners still less. This fact will be understood when it is realized that whilst the dominant characteristic of public life in England is self-help, that of for private engineers is small ; but for private medical practitioners it is still less. The bulk the natives of India are too poor to pay any but the most trivial medical fees, and the only possibility of bringing medical help near them is by public hospitals. These have been established in the larger towns, but at the cost of the public revenues ; consequently they are Government institutions, and their doctors and assistants are servants of Government. Government doctors are allowed to take up private practice , as all that is less remunerative falls to the native doctors, who can live on very little, and only demand small fees.

I have tried to make it plain that engineering and medicine, apart from the Government services,offer practically no field for employment. I shall now point out the mode of entering these professions as servants of Government.

Engineers in India form a body known as the Department of Public Works, recruited partly from the Military Corps of Royal Engineers, and partly by a competitive examination in England. Of the two bodies of men forming this Department, the military men are in every way better off than the others. They secure a larger number of the highly-paid appointments; they have social advantage of their military rank ; and they retire on much larger pensions. Military service in India has one great advantage over England, for officers of every branch of the army, except,perhaps, the cavalry ,can in India live on their pay ; in England they cannot. Consequently, a young Engineer, whose parents cannot afford him an allowance large enough to live on in England, should go to India. He will there be sure of an income that from the outset is enough, with moderate economy, for his reasonable wants. After a certain number of years' service--I do not remember precisely how many, but believe it to be from ten to fifteen--a Royal Engineer can elect take up Indian service permanently. By doings he binds himself to serve India only, and to give up all hope of life in England bare retirement, except,of course, for such periods as he may be allowed furlough. As a set-off, however, he receives a higher salary than the majority of his contemporaries in England, and on retirement secures a larger pension.

Next to the Indian Civil Service , the Royal Engineers in India is the best of the Government services, and it may be fairly be said to offer a very good career, subject, of course, to the drawbacks I have described as incident to life in India generally. The Civil Engineers, who make up the rest of the Department of Public Works, are recruited from the Cooper's Hill Engineering College. There is a good deal of expense involved in a course at this college, and when this expense has been incurred an appointment is not a certainty, for there is a competitive examination at the end of the course. This branch of the Department of Public Works is one that I cannot recommend to anyone whatever. Not only does it involve an expensive training, but it is the worst paid European service in India, although a service of trained experts. The Royal Engineers, while doing precisely the same work as the civil officers, are better paid, and are earning a better pension. This in itself causes great deal of discontent, and is a genuine grievance. But not only are the Royal Engineers better paid: they also step into the majority of the highest appointments. What is more disheartening still is that other Englishmen, members of other services in India, who have undergone no special training, and passed no competitive examination at all, are better paid than the Civil Engineers.

The Indian doctors are all commissioned medical officers and as such are liable to service with the Army. In reality the period of such service need not be long, for there are many medical appointments having nothing whatever to do with the Army, and these are held by officers of the Indian Medical Service. Competitive examinations are held annually for this service, and from about ten to twenty commissions granted. Efforts have been made to deter young medical men from competing, by declaring the profession to be much underpaid. Salaries are not high, certainly, and the inducements to keep well abreast of medical science are of the smallest. Any able doctor who can afford to bide his time in England could not make a greater mistake than to go into the Indian Medical Service; at the same time salaries are enough for a comfortable life, and good pensions are paid on retirement.

Indian chaplains also, like most Englishmen in India outside the Presidency towns, are servants of Government. For the most part they are regimental chaplains, with very little parish duty outside the soldiers' barracks. They are divided into two classes, called junior and senior chaplains, the former receive 500 rupees a month, or about £450 a year, and the latter 800 rupees a month, or about £720 a year. They are able to retire on pensions of £365 a year, after about eighteen years' service, and frequently obtain livings at home, after retirement, in addition to their pensions. They are not, and have no connection with, their missionaries. Their function is to be the clergy of the English military and civil population in India, and nothing more. They are not expected, and, I believe, not permitted, to take part in missionary labors, for it is the traditional policy of the Indian Government that its servants shall not assist any effort to alter or interfere with the religions of the people.

Appointments as Indian Chaplains are made in England by the Secretary of State for India, often, I understand, on the nomination of the Bishop of the Indian diocese to which the nominee is to proceed.

The Indian Service that takes up the largest number of young Englishmen is the Indian Army, or Staff Corps, as it is called. The great advantage of the Indian over the English Army is, as I have before stated, that the officers of the former can, with moderate economy, live on their pay from the first; a subaltern's pay, for example, is enough to enable him to pay all necessary regimental subscriptions and a moderate mess bill, and to lodge and clothe himself as a gentleman. It certainly leaves very little for luxuries, but then a subaltern is usually not long before he secures either the adjutancy of his regiment, or some departmental appointment that brings a considerable addition to his regimental pay.

The Indian Army is open to all officers of the English Army who can qualify, according to a fairly easy standard, in the Hindoostani language. With the Indian Staff Corps in view, therefore, a father who wishes his son to be a soldier, but who can give him only a small allowance, or none at all, need not be deterred from allowing his son to enter the Army.

Steady, if somewhat tardy, promotion is secured, and the pay of the seniors is liberal; a lieutenant-colonel commanding a regiment receives the equivalent of from £1000 to £1200 a year. Indian officers can also enter the various non-combatant branches of the Service, such as Commissariat, Army Pay Department, &c., where the pay is somewhat higher than in a regiment. They are also eligible for employment in the Political Department under the Civil Government, which includes some of the best appointments in India, with salaries equivalent to from about £1700 to about £3500 a year.

A further advantage of the Indian Army is the very liberal pensions granted to its officers on retirement; they range, I believe, from £365 to £800 a year, and depend upon the length of service at retirement.

After the Indian Civil Service and Corps of Royal Engineers, the Indian Army undoubtedly is the most desirable Service in India. Army rank is in itself an attraction, and the wide range of appointments, many of them very well paid, is enough to secure a successful career for a clever man.

I have mentioned that the entrance to the Civil branch of the Department of Public Works is through the Cooper's Hill College. The Telegraph and Forest Departments are also recruited through the same college.

The Forest Department is a good Service, and one of the best paid, after the Indian Civil Service.

The Telegraph Department is not attractive, and I would not recommend it for any one who can secure an appointment in any other branch.

Educational appointments, mostly professorships at the various Indian colleges, are sometimes offered to the University men. Those who accept them very commonly regret it. The salaries are fair, and increase from time to time, but they are wholly insufficient for meant of first rate ability. Then educational work in India is on a very much lower level than in England and I have heard professors declare that stone-breaking would be about as intellectual and refreshing an everyday employment as instruction the Indian youth. The work must unquestionably be somewhat disheartening, for young men struggling to master an alien and not very congenial culture, as is the case with Indian youths at college, cannot, and do not, save in very rare cases, show the freshness of appreciation and originality of the students at the British Universities.

The various Services I have now described are recruited in England. Besides these there are others, such as the Indian Police, Customs, Post Office, and Salt Departments, to which appointment are made in India itself. Of these the Police is the most attractive, and in point of emoluments is about equal to the Forest Department. The others do not offer many even fairly well paid appointments.

I have no doubt that if the Parents' Review be made the medium for questions by those who wish for more precise or detailed information than I have here given, answers to the questions could be furnished.

So far I have dealt with the purely material aspect of the case. A few words are necessary to explain the peculiar moral position of Englishmen in India. Each English household lives surrounded by natives o the country -- servants, and other -- who watch and talk about all that the English do. Life in India is much more open and easy to observation than in England, and the manner of lives is well known to and freely discussed by the natives. This imposes a responsibility that must always be borne in mind; errors and shortcomings, because they are always patent, never concealed, have the fullest possible influence in hindering the winning of a good reputation, or damaging it if won. A good name, on the other hand, is proportionately difficult to obtain, for it is hard to be always fair an always patient, and yet not a single shortcoming in either direction escapes the knowledge, not of one, but of all who are interested in discussing the character of an Englishman, and their name is legion. In spite of the difficulties, it is an enduring honor to Englishmen that they are known to be upright and considerate beyond anything that was known to the natives of India before our coming. What our forefathers won our fathers retained. Shall we do the same? Every Englishman who goes to India shares in the heritage, and it si for him, by deed and not by word, to bequeath in his turn what he received, or to spoil and waste it.

Typed by Bhooma, June 2016